ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Republicans in New York have picked a new state chairman as they seek to recover from a series of recent political and legislative defeats.
Meeting in Albany on Monday, state party leaders formally tapped Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy to replace longtime chairman Ed Cox, whom some Republicans had blamed for recent election losses.
Top Republicans hope Langworthy can widen the party’s appeal among young voters, minorities, women and independents in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2:1. At 38, he’s the youngest state chairman in state party history and exactly half of Cox’s age.
“Starting today we will rebuild, retool and revitalize the Republican Party across the state of New York,” Langworthy told hundreds of Republicans at Monday’s party meeting. “The comeback starts now.”
Last fall, Democrats won a majority of seats and took back the state Senate following a decade of Republican control. Democrats already held a formidable majority in the Assembly and all four statewide offices.
One-party rule enabled Democrats in the Legislature to push through a long list of measures that had been opposed by Republicans, including aggressive targets for emissions reductions, new protections for abortion rights and a new law authorizing driver’s licenses for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
It was a disaster for a party that had held the Senate for most of the last 80 years and boasts long-serving governors such as Nelson Rockefeller and George Pataki.
“If you are a hardworking middle-class taxpayer in the state of New York, you had a bad year,” Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, R-Long Island, said in his remarks at Monday’s GOP gathering.
Democrats argue their party’s voter registration advantage and recent election victories show Republicans are out of touch, and reflect the unpopularity of Republican President Donald Trump in his home state.
Richard Azzopardi, senior adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, fired back at Republicans, saying that since Cuomo won election in 2010 Democrats have voted to lower taxes and cut spending while also pursuing liberal social priorities, such as same-sex marriage or more renewable energy.
“Whether it’s Cox spouting Trump-style fearmongering or Langworthy spouting Trump-style fearmongering, no one is buying the crock of baloney they’ve been trying to offload for years.”
Langworthy acknowledged the challenges before him and ticked off several immediate goals for the party: more young candidates from diverse backgrounds, stronger local party operations and defeating Cuomo in 2022.
Cox, the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon, had led the state party since 2009. He announced earlier this year that he would depart to work as a fundraiser for Trump’s re-election campaign. The announcement came after several party county chairpersons announced their support for Langworthy’s challenge.